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Monthly Archives: January 2014

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Max Loderbauer’s album from last year, “Transparenz”, managed to fly under many people’s radars, despite a lot of signifiers that should have helped give it more attention: he works with Ricky V, it was released on Tobias’ label, there was a nice review from RA, and Hardwax gave it a strong recommendation and later included it on their 2013 charts. Saying that, it is also easy to understand why it wasn’t picked up more: it does not really match with current trends, and it is by no means an easy listen. While it is certainly not a difficult record, most of it does take some time to process (at least that was the case with me). Normally if I don’t connect with a record quickly, it is highly unlikely that will change over time. But I have stuck with “Transparenz” and now coming back to it after a few months break it has really hit me. It’s minimal, stripped back and very well produced. My friend described it better than I could, so I will just quote him: “the synth patches are sophisticated and very tasteful, unique and totally of its own world.” So if you have a bit of patience, I strongly suggest checking this one out, it’s worth it.

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Bandcamp has improved a lot as a platform, but it can be quite easy to miss new releases if you don’t know who is out there / who to follow. And as a result sometimes you do miss things. And so it seems that in August 2013 Ben Frost quietly released 3 albums of new material from a number of projects he that he had soundtracked. They are very much what you’d expect from Frost: powerful music with real gravity, often tinged with a fragile beauty. These are all well worth checking:

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In a relatively short space of time, Svreca has built up a very strong connection with Japan. One of the shared experiences that contributed to this bond was the majestic set he played at Frue’s party at Unit last February. Across more than 4 hours he demonstrated his talents as a DJ, carefully constructing a powerful set of hypnotic and captivating techno.

Now, a year later, he is playing for Frue again. He is doing two gigs for them:  On Friday 24 January he is playing an evening show at the Museum Contemporary Art Tokyo, where I will also be playing. And then on Saturday 25 January he is doing open to close at Unit, which will surely be a special journey… If you are in Tokyo, make sure to check these parties, both should be killer.

And to get people in the mood, Svreca and Frue have kindly agreed to share the recording of his set at Unit last year. Enjoy, it’s a beauty:

More info: Frue // Semantica // Svreca on twitter

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These are by no means the ‘best’ of 2013, but these are most / hopefully all of my favourites that were released last year.. I felt rather disconnected from a lot of the trends going on: the noise techno thing has really failed to develop into something interesting, and instead a lot of bad productions get given a  free pass. Deep house continues to be deep house, and thus deeply boring for me about 95% of the time. The same can definitely be said of most techno, with the range of artists and DJs that can keep me interested and excited narrowing to single digits. But… But I still managed to find a huge amount of fantastic music throughout 2013. Admittedly much / most of what I was listening to over the last year was older music and reissues, but there were still enough new releases to keep me excited. So here are my highlights for 2013. What they have in common is that they all feel like very complete artistic statements and they have all survived well under heavy listening. These are releases I have gone back to again and again, and still feel very fulfilled after listening to them. So much music in 2013 felt bitsy, underdone, incomplete, overly rough (even if intentional). While this may partly be because of trends, most of the time it made for rather unsatisfying listening. In contrast, all of the releases below have a much longer used by date and are well worth your time.

Black Deer – “Trail of Tears” [No ‘Label’]: This one slipped under many people’s radars, but I expect it will slowly starting getting more attention retrospectively. Weirdo Krautrock vibes with native American themes is perhaps how I’d describe it. Yes, that doesn’t seem like an obvious pick for the best of 2013, but I think it is was. It was just such a completely formed and beautifully unique statement. I loved this from the first listen and I have been playing it regularly throughout the year.

Silent Servant – “Performance (Sections 1 – 6)” [Mount Analog]: I feel like a douche for including a tape of which only 70 copies exist, but this is just way too awesome not to have on this list. This is a recorded version of Silent Servant’s new livepa, and it has a dirty old drum machine going through most of it that gives it this real feeling of energy and urgency. Here is a new recording of him doing his livepa in Italy, which gives you a decent idea of what this is like.

Standish/Carlyon – “Deleted Scenes” [Felte]: Seductive, slow burning album that get stuck in your head. A quick listen and you might be tempted to dismiss it as a bit kitsch / hipster ironic, but what makes it so good is that it is precisely the opposite: this is a very genuine, sincere statement. Well balanced and perfectly executed, this is a charming, fun listen.

Karen Gwyer – “Needs Continuum” [No Pain in Pop]: This one deserved a lot more press than it got. Warm syth sounds blended with Gwyer’s voice makes for an inviting, comforting listen. It has a certain delicate beauty that makes the album very appealing. The one big problem with it, however, is that the mix downs are really off. It doesn’t nearly as good as it should have. Maybe this is part of the charm? I’m doubtful about that, but I am sure it was a highlight of 2013.

Steve Moore – “Pangaea Ultima” [Spectrum Spools]: Steve Moore has been having a good run with his productions and continuing to develop an updated take on the cosmic synth stuff from the ’60s-’80s. This new album feels like his most complete and impressive statement to date. It is a very well balanced and paced release, and has this very grand, epic feeling to it. This one is perfect for Sunday afternoons or late nights after a long day of work.

Rashad Becker – “Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. 1” [PAN]: I had been eagerly awaiting this release since being blown away by a live performance from Becker a couple of years ago. His music has this wonderfully alien feeling to it – nothing really sounds like this. It is hard to figure out where exactly it came from, or what exactly Becker is trying to do. I can appreciate why many people would find this release frustrating or annoying, but this pushes all my buttons.

Mika Vainio – “Kilo” [Blast First Petite]: Vainio returns to the fringes of techno with this album, recalling some of the better moments of Pan Sonic. There was a lot of love for Haxan Cloak’s album in end of year charts, but that was just power sonics and not too much more. Vainio gives you a similar sonic blast, while also providing a much richer and more satisfying musical experience. Techno from a true master.

Atom TM – “HD” [Raster Noton]: I’ve already talked about Atom in a previous post, so no much need to repeat myself here. Suffice to say: this album is awesome.

Tropic of Cancer – “Restless Idylls” [Blackest Ever Black]: This could have very easily sucked by going a bit overboard. Instead, it is a very restrained and deliberate affair. It is certainly not cold and calculated, however. There is a real warmth and sincerity to the music, this is where the beauty of it comes from. It’ll be interesting to see how the project will develop from here.

J.D. Emmanuel – “Time Traveler” [Aguirre]: This is a series of live recordings taken from JD Emmanuel’s 2011 European tour. It is essentially trance music in the most basic meaning of the term: meditative sounds that transport you to a different state of mind. This is perfect for a tired or sore head, with JD taking you somewhere much more calm and serene.

Autechre – “Exai” [Warp]: What to say about Autechre at this point? Who knows how they keep on doing what they do, but I’m just glad they exist. “Exai” is an incredibly dense album. I am not sure if I even “like” it per se, but I do know that I have been listening to it on a regular basis since it came out and I still find it a very puzzling yet rewarding experience.

Those are the main ones. Will do a post – hopefully next week – with my favourite reissues from 2013.

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Our first Sound Garden of 2014 of the year is happening next Monday evening (it is a public holiday – Coming of Age day). We’ve got Material Object, who is visiting from Berlin, as our special guest. He was last in Japan in September 2013, when he played a special Pete Namlook tribute set at Labyrinth. There he demonstrated an amazing depth and knowledge of ambient music, which we look forward to experiencing again at Sound Garden. This is his only show in Japan for this trip, and an artist that perfectly fits with what Sound Garden is about, so we are really excited about this one. Please come down, relax and welcome in 2014 with us!

Sound Garden – January 2014 edition

Monday 13 January (public holiday)

19:00 – 24:00, FREE

Time Out Café, 2F Liquid Room, Ebisu

Guest: Material Object (FAX / from Berlin)

Residents: Chris SSG (mnml ssgs), David Dicembre (RA Japan), Jelomu (Drone)

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I am very happy to say that I have a new mix online as part of A Colourful Storm’s excellent podcast series. They’ve been slowly building up a great collection of mixes, including one from my fellow ssg PC. My mix is a live recording of my opening set from our last Sound Garden party, which was held in November 2013 at Time Out Cafe. It is just by chance that the mix went online this week, but the timing is perfect, as it fits in with my end of year posts. This mix gives a very accurate representation of a lot of the music that I was exploring and listening to during the last year. Indeed, I think all of the music I played, except for the final track, is stuff that I picked up in 2013. It is composed mainly of old and new cosmic synth and kosmische music, with an emphasis on creating a slowly building but meditative vibe. 

I am really happy with how this recording turned out and glad it is appearing on A Colourful Storm. Head over there for the tracklisting and download link

http://acolourfulstorm.com/post/72429149957/acs040

 

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Here’s a guest post from Dave the silent ssg. He always puts together a ‘best of’ list at the end of the year, so we thought we might as well share it. Just to be clear, I do not agree / endorse these selections! I’ll be posting my picks soon, just need to find time to finish the post. Now over to Dave:

I feel that 2013 has been a particularly strong year for music, particularly in regards to previously founded sounds being more fleshed out and developed. The noisy post techno movement which started a few years back is now at the later stages of its peak, with artists exploring the last parts of new ground within the scene. Labels like The Trilogy Tapes and Opal Tapes have been particularly prominent in this new wave of post techno. However, this later stage of releases, while very enjoyable, does point towards a dip in fresh output down the track.

I think parallels can be drawn between this kind of techno in 2013 and the digital minimal techno sound in 2008/2009, when it was at the end of its peak. While that era had some quality releases, failure to progress to newer sounds resulted in some rather bleak years. So despite being very happy with this year in music, I’m a little concerned about what is in store for the mid 2010s.

There are some promising developments in the outer fringes which will hopefully bleed through to techno down the track. I’ve always felt that new sounds and ideas develop in the outskirts of scenes which eventually are incorporated by club music which are then eventually adopted by the mainstream. Kanye West’s Yeezus album is a great example of the mainstream being inspired by what has been happening in the underground over the past few years. Oneohtrix Point Never’s new album is another example, with his incorporation of vaporwave, a genre which I originally thought was heading towards a similar fate to other micro-genres such as witch house and chillwave.

I know there have already been far too many think pieces written about vaporwave so I won’t go on a rant about it here. However, I really think it has a lot to offer techno and other electronic music. Keep an eye out for Arca, his mix this year is very impressive and seems to be incorporating vaporwave ideas in interesting ways. I’m sure there will be others to pop up over the year as well.

I’m also looking forward to more development in Melbourne’s scene. It’s quite interesting how both Standish/Carlyon and HTRK have drawn on influences on Melbourne’s early 80s post punk scene to create their own sound. With White Hex and a few other local groups popping up, hopefully this scene will grow and Melbourne will finally have a sound to call its own.

Another pleasing development has been the continued rise of Kye Records. To be honest, many of their releases require more time for me to fully appreciate but others have been more immediate. If the recognition of labels pushing such oddball sounds continues to increase, that can only be a good thing.

Here’s my top albums for 2013:

1. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus 7
2. Kanye West – Yeezus
3. Standish/Carlyon – Deleted Scenes
4. The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
5. Kyari Pamyu Pamyu – Nanda Collection
6. Clouds – Ghost System Rave
7. Jessy Janza – Pull My Hair Back
8. Minilogue – Blomma
9. Good Area – French Antarctica
10. Naka Naka – Juan Pestanas
11. Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet – Photographs
12. Huerco S – Colonial Patterns
13. Sean Maccann – Music For Private Ensemble
14. Yvette – Process
15. Toshimaru Nakamura – No Input Mixing Board #8
16. Marcos Cabral – False Memories
17. Arca – &&&&
18. Haim – Days Are Gone
19. Nicholas Bullen – Component Fixations
20. Autechre – Exai
21. Helm – Silencer
22. Angel 1 – Angel Activate
23. Basic House – Oats
24. Shadowlust – Trust In Pain
25. Tropic Of Cancer – Restless Idylls
26. Body Boys – Growth Window
27. The Siege Of Troy – S/T
28. Kevin Morby – Harlem River
29. DJ Koze – Amygdala
30. Gunner Haslam – Mimesiak

These are some top tracks that appeared on EPs or compilations:

Ancient Methods – Knights & Bishops
Beau Wanzer – Hoedown
Clouds – Complete Control
Cut Hands – Madwoman
Demdike Stare – Fail
DJ Nori – Happy Sunday (Maurice Fulton remix)
Eomac – Tunnel
FKA Twigs – Water Me
The Knife – A Tooth For An Eye
The KVB – Dayzed (Regis Remix)
Marcos Cabral – North Caroline
Peverelist – Aztec Chant
The Siege Of Troy – A Cluster Of Three Drops

Here’s to a great 2014, hopefully it turns out better than I hope!